Friday, March 16, 2007

Not Alone

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. Here's another sign of the bending from recent days.
And here's a kids' anthem to go along with the notion:

Bending the Arc

In my tribe we got lots of different faces

In my tribe people come from different places

In my tribe we got lots of different races

In my tribe we’re bending the arc with love

In my tribe inspiration fills our lungs

In my tribe every banner will be hung

In my tribe we’re singing songs of every tongue

In my tribe we’re bending the arc with love

In my tribe young and old will join the band

In my tribe straight and gay walk hand in hand

In my tribe all the people share the land

In my tribe we’re bending the arc with love

In my tribe we got joy and pain and sorrow

In my tribe we see a vision for tomorrow

In my tribe we’ve got love enough to share and some to borrow

In my tribe we’re bending the arc with love

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


The Scots Confession, written in 1560 by John Knox and five other Scots reformers, is the oldest English language Reformation confession. Knox and his friends worked almost literally under the gun, as their work put words to a vision of ecclesiastic and political unity in a Scotland emerging from a long and bloody fight for independence from both the Roman Catholic French and the Protestant monarchy of England.
While the political intrigue of a Europe emerging from the Middle Ages into early modernity was shaped by the particular institutions and individuals of the time, the broad social, political, economic and intellectual tumult bears some striking parallels to our own age. New communications technologies (the printing press), rapidly expanding trade (flowing forth from Columbus' exploration of the New World), an emerging economic order of capitalism, and the first stirrings of democratic political yearnings (though still two centuries away from the American Revolution) marked the age much as the emergence of the internet, global trade, and post-colonial political yearnings continue to mark our age.
So, in the midst of that world-altering change what did the fathers of Presbyterianism choose to focus on? A church marked by right preaching of the word, right observation of the sacraments, and discipline in ecclesiastical order. Is it any wonder that we Presbyterians are "decent and in order in all things"?
The Scots Confession is a clarion call to commitment to the church (the Kirk, the word Knox chose as closest to the New Testament Greek kyriakon), and its passion is captured in what stand as, perhaps, is most well known words:
"The notes of the true Kirk, therefore, we believe, confess, and avow to be: first, the true preaching of the Word of God, in which God has revealed himself to us, as the writings of the prophets and apostles declare; secondly, the right administration of the sacraments of Christ Jesus, with which must be associated the Word and promise of God to seal and confirm them in our hearts; and lastly, ecclesiastical discipline uprightly ministered, as God's Word prescribes, whereby vice is repressed and virtue nourished. Then wherever these notes are seen and continue for any time, be the number complete or not, there, beyond any doubt, is the true Kirk of Christ, who, according to his promise, is in its midst. "
Against the tumult of the age, the Reformers called the faithful to live in fidelity to the true Kirk. In our age, the question is similar: what are the marks of the church today? What does it mean to be authentically the church of Jesus Christ in the post modern world? How do we confess our faith now? What can the Reformers teach us, who would be reformers still?


"The purpose of Lent is not only expiation, to satisfy the divine justice, but above all a preparation to rejoice in God's love. And this preparation consists in receiving the gift of God's mercy - a gift which we receive in so far as we open our hearts to it, casting out what cannot remain in the same room with mercy.

Now one of the things we must cast out first of all is fear. Fear narrows the little entrance of our heart. It shrinks up our capacity to love. It freezes up our power to give ourselves. If we were terrified of God as an inexorable judge, we would not confidently await God's mercy, or approach God trustfully in prayer. Our peace, our joy in Lent are a guarantee of grace."

- Thomas Merton, in "Seasons of Celebration"

Well, it's a good thing, too, because Lenten commitments are no easier to keep than New Year's resolutions. Thus, having promised myself that I would keep to the practice of this journal/blog daily during Lent I find the entrance to my own heart narrowed by the fear of not getting things done. So, under an increasing pile of "to-dos" the blogging slides by. But this day will get a double dose.